An unemployed Orange County phlebotomy technician, who suffers from a nasty methamphetamine addiction and helped execute a 2012 plot to steal mail that contained credit cards and $44,000 in checks, must pay for her federal crime with incarceration.
U.S. District Court Judge James V. Selna ordered Sheena Renee Hernandez imprisoned for 366 days followed by six-months in a residential drug facility, restitution and, if unemployed upon release, 20 hours a week of community service during supervised probation for three years.
Hernandez--who was born in 1981 and who had compiled a criminal record prior to the mail thefts--hoped for leniency because she grew up under alleged difficult circumstances with divorced parents and a chronically alcoholic father.
As a teen, the defendant used alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, crack and LSD, but preferred methamphetamine on a daily basis, according to court records.
A taxpayer-funded defense lawyer unsuccessfully lobbied for no incarceration because the public allegedly would get a good financial deal for supervised release ($279 a month) versus the $2,412 a month to imprison her, according to the lawyer.
In a handwritten letter to the judge, Hernandez said custody inside the Santa Ana Jail has been "a real eye-opener" that helped her realize "what a mess my life was and how foggy and unclear my mind was."
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She added, "Now, when I look back on the actions that landed me here, I can see the stupidity in them . . . One thing I am sure of is that my time spent here has been a blessing in disguise."
Vionette Vasquez Salcido, Hernandez's accomplice, admitted in late July that she too is guilty of mail theft and this woman, who was born in 1978, is awaiting a Dec. 2 sentencing hearing inside Orange County's Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse.